The solar photovoltaic inverter (PV) market has been forecast to see global shipments reach a value of 52.3 gigawatts by 2018, with supply and demand moving away from the European markets and swaying more towards North America and Asia-Pacific.
After a brief lull, the solar PV inverter market is bustling with activity, driven by global Government commitment to solar power generation and the falling prices of components.
A solar PV inverter converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current (AC) that can be fed into a commercial electrical grid or used by a local, off-grid electrical network. It is a critical component in a photovoltaic system, allowing the use of ordinary commercial appliances.
2013 has been forecast to be another challenging year for the solar PV inverter market, with flat revenue growth globally and a major shift away from traditional markets leading to a reshaping of the supplier base.
The top ten solar PV inverter manufacturers are likely to suffer because of falling inverter prices and because new markets such as Japan, China, India and the US will prove difficult to penetrate and may not compensate for decreases in their core markets, Germany and Italy. Recent announcements of profit warnings, and Chapter 11 filings by leading suppliers SMA and Satcon highlight the challenging conditions being experienced by all PV inverter manufacturers at present and this may not improve until 2014.
Some of the key challenges that PV inverter manufacturers will continue to face in 2013 will be certification standards, lower cost bases and local manufacturing requirements, as well as intense competition from local suppliers. As some of the Asian countries have a much lower price point, one of the biggest hurdles for inverter manufacturers in 2013 is that they will not be able to subsidise their Asia operations by their profitable European business.
Europe currently dominates the global solar PV inverters market. The European market, led by Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece and the Czech Republic, also accounts for the majority of global installations. However, in light of the economic recession and subsequent Eurozone financial crisis, several Governments rolled back PV subsidies and incentives as part of their austerity measures, thereby culling demand in the region.
In the near term, China and India are forecast to emerge as major centres of growth in the Asia-Pacific region, with China evolving into a major PV inverter manufacturing hub. As a result, the market is expected to register a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 25% through 2018.
For those manufacturers that withstand the challenges of 2013 and successfully penetrate these emerging markets, the future years are forecast to return to double digit growth as the PV market reaches greater maturity. However the key inverter markets will no longer be centered in Europe but spread over a greater number of continents.
For more information on the solar PV inverters market, see the latest research: Solar PV Inverters
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